Throughout the year, Fordham Law School provides a wide range of services and support to help students with their mental health and well-being. Though the Law School’s physical facilities remain closed for the rest of the semester due to the coronavirus outbreak, students can still access many of the same resources remotely.
Jordana Confino, director of the new Office of Professionalism, leads wellness programs for students at Fordham Law. She was recently one of seven speakers invited to the national ABA Well-Being Workshop Teleconference that took place on March 24 to discuss best practices for promoting wellness during the coronavirus crisis. “I represented one of only two law schools on the panel, which just shows how Fordham has really emerged as a leader in the law student well-being community,” she said.
Confino shared her best advice for how students can best cope with stress and anxiety during this unprecedented time.
Adjust and adapt as best you can: Your normal study habits and strategies may not be available to you in the same way now, but you can learn and develop new strategies for acclimating to your new environment. For example, Fordham Law’s Office of Student Affairs and Tutoring Program continue to operate remotely and provide academic support.
Speak with a counselor: “With the incredible stress, anxiety, and loss that will be generated by this crisis for so many people, mental health services are now more essential than ever. And they can be conducted remotely,” Confine said. (Fordham Law students may call Fordham Counseling and Psychological Service, 212-636-6225, to schedule an appointment or screening by phone, Zoom, Doxy.Me, or WebEx).
Stay connected: “Social distancing does not need to mean social isolation—reach out and connect with people,” Confino said. In terms of academics, professors are holding office hours for students to ask questions regarding classes and assignments, and even just to check-in and say “hello.” And, when you’ve done all your work for the day, Confino says it’s important to find creative ways to hang out with your friends and family—whether that’s having an interactive game night or a virtual Netflix Party.
Perform an act of kindness: Fordham Law students kicked off a Virtual Food Drive through Food Bank for New York City that has already raised more than $2,700. “But even the smallest acts of kindness, like extending a wave to someone that you pass by on the street, can make all the difference,” says Confino.
Take a deep breath (or a few): “We had just launched our pop-up Mindful March Meditation Series right before we left campus,” Confino said. “But, now there are all these great online apps for meditation sessions and even links to live-streamed meditations being offered in the legal community.”
“Not only does deep breathing help you relax, but it can also serve as a calming mechanism by training your mind to focus on cultivating control and mindfulness over your thoughts and feelings. It’s a helpful strategy to stay grounded in the midst of all of this chaos, and it’s even been shown to boost our immune system,” Confino said.
Keep moving: Confino noted the many live-streamed classes available online for Zumba, yoga, cardio, and more. “Also, as springtime heads our way, there’s no reason not to go out there and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air—as long as you’re keeping your safe distance of six feet,” she added.
Communicate with others: For students who have people all around them in their home, Confino said it’s important to communicate and find ways to strike a balance respecting each other’s schedules and needs. And, for students who are living alone, she recommends reaching out to a classmate to set up a time to watch a class lecture online together and later discuss its content.
Be grateful: Though there may be a lot of negative information to dwell on at the moment, students can still think about things to look forward to and all the good that’s being done in the world. “Every time you wash your hand for 20 seconds, take that time to either focus on your breath and practice mindfulness or identify things that you’re grateful for,” Confino said.
Practice self-compassion, not self-criticism: “I think it’s really important for students to not expect things to be exactly as they were under usual circumstances because these are not usual circumstances,” Confino noted. “Go easy on yourself. Yes, try to devise strategies to adapt to this new temporary normal. But remind yourself that under these circumstances, simply getting through the day is a huge accomplishment, and applaud yourself for doing the best you can.”
Lastly, there is a silver lining: Said Confino, “While this is an enormously challenging time, students are learning critical professional skills, like virtual communication and presentation and less structured time and project management, that will serve them well in the workplace.”